Have you ever wondered if you were allergic to being pregnant? I did. The nine months I spent waiting for my first child to be born began with a short interlude of calm and excitement over the thrill of bearing a son. During my first, blissful month of pregnancy, I felt immune to any potential tribulations I might experience. Me ~ I would have a perfect pregnancy! Nausea, vomiting, back pain and stretch marks were stuff that happened to other, less hardy women, I decided in my utter naivete. Then, I threw up. In fact, I began throwing up at about 5 weeks, didn’t stop vomiting until literally the day I delivered my son by Cesarean section. During those nine months, I literally experienced many of the conditions and complaints I had iron-willed myself to escape: nausea, vomiting, dehydration, pre-eclampsia, elevated blood pressure, excessive weight gain, swelling in my legs, feet and face, water-retention, and finally the rash from Hell: PUPPPs.
What is PUPPPs? PUPPP stands for Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy. Plainly put, it’s a rash that developed during the later months of pregnancy that covered virtually my entire body with large, angry, itchy welts (known as plaques and pustules). PUPPPs affects fewer than 1 percent of pregnancies, so it’s fairly uncommon. I almost drove myself crazy during my last 6-8 weeks of pregnancy with constant itching and scratching. The relentless itch I experienced made daily life extremely uncomfortable. To calm the itch, I tried switching laundry detergent, Aveeno oatmeal baths, cold showers, Caladryl lotion and other remedies approved by my doctor, but nothing would quell the itching. In fact, I endured the rash until after my son, a healthy baby, was delivered. It was so awful, however, that the Dr. prescribed a dose of steroids after my delivery to ease the intense itching. Dermatology.about.com defines the cause of PUPPPs as:
“…unknown. It is not associated with pre-eclampsia, autoimmune disorders, hormonal abnormalities, or fetal abnormalities. Some investigators suggest that the rapid abdominal wall distension damages connective tissue and causes an inflammatory response. One study has shown that male fetal DNA can be found in skin biopsies of the rash. Since 70% of women with PUPPP give birth to boys, a new hypothesis is that male fetal DNA acts as a skin irritant.”(Source)
Looking at this explanation closely points to all the reasons I probably endured PUPPPs. During my pregnancy, I vomited so often I was also treated for hyperemesis, a condition which can cause dehydration and malnutrition. Despite throwing up so often, I managed to gain a healthy amount of weight, and indeed my belly inflated like a tire. And, I eventually gave birth to my son, who is in many respects, a carbon copy of his father. So, perhaps the mismatched DNA was the cause of my itching odyssey? I’ll never know, but by sheer luck, my second pregnancy was relatively smooth and uneventful.
If you’re suffering from PUPPPs and are seeking relief, be sure to get any treatment you choose approved by your doctor, to ensure you don’t harm your unborn child. A variety of homeopathic and natural remedies are described on the Internet, as well as studies of medical treatments. So please, check with your Doctor before treating the hives with any cream, lotion, bath or other remedy.
Looking back, I can smile knowing that the strange and uncomfortable symptoms I endured during my pregnancy were simply the price I paid for a true reward: my precious son. Now that he’s entering his teen years, these memories are far behind ~ but sometimes I wonder, if I hadn’t bragged at what an easy pregnancy I was planning to sail through, would things have possibly turned out differently?
** I am not a physician, and this article is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. **